I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “confident.” We would love to have you join us.

She gracefully glides across the stage. Each movement flows with the rhythm of the music. Her eyes catch her family in the audience watching. A smile spreads across her face. She is so happy and confident.

It hadn’t always been this way. As a little girl, she was timid. Scared even. Wondering what her audience would think. But over time and as she grew up, this love of dance brought her a newfound confidence.

This girl isn’t anyone in particular, but she does remind me of many of my church kids. Many of my girls are dancers. But there are others who love hockey, swimming, track, basketball, and so many other sports.

But friends, confidence and dedication are not just found in sports. It is found in a love of theater, a love of music and so much more. For me, I found my confidence in theater. Teachers who saw it in me before I even saw it in my myself.

My prayer is that today’s children/youth know they can absolutely without a doubt find confidence in Gods love for them.

Have You Forgotten Me?

This week rather Valentine’s Day is hard y’all! I know I sound like a broken record. But there is so much truth to this statement. On Valentine’s Day, it seems everywhere you look there are flowers being delivered to everyone but you. It seems everyone has someone next to their side holding their hand while my hand lays empty. And there are roses, balloons, chocolates…oh MY….everywhere! It is almost impossible to escape the reality of this day especially as a single person. For me, it continually reminds me of my singleness and Valentine’s Day has been dubbed Single Awareness Day by myself and many others.

At 40 years old, my biological clock is continually ticking away. I have yearned to be a wife and mom since I was a little girl. Yet it has not happened for me. It is a deep desire of my heart that continually echoes “How long, oh Lord, will you forget me forever? How long, Oh Lord?”

On days, like Valentine’s Day, I too often find myself believing that God has indeed forgotten me. Why is my heart aching so deeply because this deep desire has not been met for me? My head truly knows that God has not forgotten me but my heart believes something else entirely.

Logically, every fiber of my being knows that if it is meant to be, it will happen in God’s timing and not my own. Yet illogically, I want to try everything in my power to fix this. Yet the truth is there is nothing to fix. However, how often does society make those of us who are single feel like we are broken; unwhole because we do not have that special someone by our side? The truth is that it is all too often!

I wish that I didn’t wrap my identity up in my singleness. I wish that I could see that I am enough. But on days, like Valentine’s day, it is almost impossible to escape these thoughts running through my heart and head. I want the ache of my heart to go away. I want to finally have the deep desires of my heart met. I want to know that my wholeness is not wrapped up in a label…single, married, divorced, widowed, etc.

Because of my faith, I will spend Valentine’s Day trying with all my might to trust in the promises that I am a beautiful beloved child of God. Every year on Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of these words from an article I read several years ago: “I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day.” (Read the rest HERE!)

As the engagement rings are placed on fingers, as friends start having children of their own, and relationships form around me, it can be really easy to fall into that pit of pity; to believe that all of who I am is wrapped up in my singleness. It is on this special day that I need to fully know that my identity is not wrapped up in my singleness, but in my identity as a beautiful blessed broken beloved child of God.

Because on Valentine’s Day, I need to know more than ever that I am valued, that I am enough, and that I am loved.

I am linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Susan and Lets Have Coffee and Kristin and Porch Stories!

Sunday Blessings 243

(1) Girl Scout cookies. Thanks Ellie!

(2) New books!

(3) A warm house on these frigid cold days

(4) Apologies

(5) Luna!!

(6) Leftover pizza from Confirmation

(7) Awesome quilts from churches I’ve served

(8) My car starting after a record setting cold day (-45 degrees below zero)

(9) Youth Group

(10) Grammys

(11) Talking to Grandma on the phone

(12) MDU workers who got power restored quickly on Friday

If You Build It…

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “build.” We would love to have you join us.

“If you build it, they will come!”-from the movie Field of Dreams. Since hearing the word prompt, this quote has been replaying in my head.

The movie Field of Dreams was filmed in Dyersville Iowa. It was not very far from where I went to seminary in Dubuque. Some friends and I would go spend time at this historic site once in awhile.

I remember one time in particular when we were working our way through the corn maze answering the trivia questions along the way. The boys got bored and split off from us girls. Then they decided it would be fun to scare us and attack us with corn stalks. We laughed about how there was probably hidden cameras and we were going to get in trouble. There were no hidden cameras!

I have always loved this movie. There is something about the promise that if you build it they will come. The field is built and the baseball players do come. What are you going to build so people will come?

And a shout out I need to share: This morning, I am especially thankful for electrical workers who braved forty below zero temperatures to restore power quickly and efficiently.

A Gentle Warrior

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of warrior” is defined as person engaged or experienced in warfare; or “broadly: a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.”

The other day a friend called me her warrior. I’ve never really thought of myself as a warrior. But when I look at this definition, I see that I fit more in this definition than I realized. A warrior is anyone who is engaged in some struggle or conflict. Most of my life I have lived with the realities of being the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

I kept so much of that story locked deep in the depths of my heart. I saw the stigma associated with mom’s illness so I didn’t tell anyone until I was eighteen years old. In finally unlocking this piece of my story, a sense of peace and freedom finally came over me.

There are days I wonder why this has been our journey. There are other days I wish that I could fix it all. And there are yet other days that I find myself powering through and doing my best to share our story.

Just last week at the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza, I led two workshops “Living as a Daughter: What I have Learned from our Mental Health Journey.” I have told my; our story many times. But this time was different. I don’t know if it was because I was sharing our story with colleagues and friends. I even said, “Who am I to say?” To which another friend reminded me, “Who are you not to say? You don’t know everything but you know a lot more than most.”

Those words were words I needed to hear. In a lot of ways, I am that warrior that my friend called me. It takes a gentle strength to overcome the stigma and to tell our mental health story. It takes courage to find the words to help others eventually tell their stories. And in doing so, I find my inner warrior.

I am Sandy’s daughter. I am a warrior…called to share her story and help stop the stigma of mental illness.

Sunday Blessings 242

(1) Awesome group of youth at Coffee and Conversation. Doubled in size of attendance from the time before!

(2) Joy and Laughter

(3) Great Mutual Ministry Meeting!

(4) Luna being playful!

(5) Getting to see KG last week (I forgot to add this to last Sunday’s post)

(6) The E

(7) Spending time with SS, JN, MF and so many others.

(8) A walk with SS along the river walk

(9) Sweet Petes fun with the WND crew

(10) Fun at Cowford with so many of my friends.

(11) KD giving me a ride to the airport

(12) Visiting with PE

(13) Sparkle Motion!

(14) KK watching my Luna and picking me up from airport

(15) Super Bowl snacks

(16) Remembering U Mary Communication Days

(17) Compliments on my new hair cut

(18) Visiting with SB

(19) Lunas new toy that she absolutely loves

(20) A warm house when it’s snowing like crazy

(21) Attendees at my E workshops

Where, oh Where?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “where.” We would love to have you join us.

Where oh where is the one for whom my heart yearns? Am I looking in all the wrong places? Or am I not looking deeply enough? Where oh where is the one my heart longs for?

Ever since I can remember I’ve yearned to be a wife and momma, yet it hasn’t happened for me yet. The hope lessens a little more each day. Where oh where? How long oh Lord, will you forget me forever?

There are some I wonder if are the one. I wonder if I’ve let them get away. Or perhaps I’ve been too blind. I haven’t seen them right in front of my face. My heart still yearns. I want someone to give my heart too.

Yes, there is one who loves me beyond measure. The one who called and claimed me by name. I know I can always turn to him. I know his love is always there for the taking and the giving. The one Jesus who was sent by his own father because God loves us so much.

I will cling to this love forever. But I still yearn to be a wife and mom. I still yearn for my heart to be shared with someone. Where oh where is the one my heart yearns to love?

Agents of God’s Love (A 2019 Extravaganza post)

“As we learn what it is to be a subject of God’s love, we also live as agents of God’s love in the world.” Dr. Terri Martinson Elton

The ELCA Youth Ministry Network is a vessel of this very love. A simple bouquet of flowers sat on the table. A plain white piece of paper with their names typed out sat next to that bouquet. A reminder that many within our community were taken from us way too soon.

This community has become such an incredible blessing and gift in my life. There is something that this community gives each one of us; a space to be our vulnerable authentic selves. I think of how dear Prairie Rose Seminole was her authentic self with us. That was a gift.

The music that Sparkle Motion shared with us. Each time, space for each artist to step forward and share their gifts with one another. Yet another gift. For it was our love that allowed Garrison to share powerful words with us.

“You can’t really know what it means to be invited to your table and to be accepted for who I am!”–Garrison Starr

Ever since, I have found myself belting out the words to the song “This is Me” from the movie the Greatest Showman.

This community of people who work, volunteer, etc with children, youth and families is a gem in our church. This time to be reminded that we are not alone. A time to come together feeling refreshed and renewed. It doesn’t always look the ways we expect either. But it is always there. I find myself once again coming away with a sense of peace and hope and my cup is overflowing with this amazing community that has been an agent of God’s love to me in incredible ways.

This year, I had the opportunity to lead a workshop. I sometimes find myself thinking I share my story too often. But what I am realizing is that God has called me to share my story; to help break the stigma around mental health awareness. This is me…the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

The people that attended my workshop were such a gift to me. I was blessed by their presence. There is something so incredibly holy about sharing in our stories. In telling our stories, we are able to come to the table; broken and beautiful.

This community is a holy place that isn’t afraid to share in all the disruptions of life; the hard and not so hard, the joy filled and the sad ones, and so much more. (I mean they did bring us dessert FIRST at the banquet. I digress….)

Thank You to the E leadership team for always offering a stellar event that is more than just a time of learning. It is a time of so much more! Thank You for the ways that we are agents of God’s love together! I am so incredible thankful for that love in the midst of the broken and messiness of life!

At the Table

A beautiful bouquet of flowers sat at the registration table. Their names were read during the prayers at Sunday worship. It was such a simple act but it was holy. It acknowledged that there were people missing from our community who had been taken from us due to death this past year.

Throughout the event, there were so many other holy acts that surfaced. Amazing speakers, stellar music, relevant workshops, etc. In the midst, so many were invited to the table and welcomed there.

“You can’t really know what it means to be invited to your table and to be accepted for who I am!”–Garrison Starr

These words from Garrison have been playing in my head and my heart ever since. She captured the beauty of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network eloquently. This community has a gift of doing just that. We hold each other in the midst of all of life’s disruptions. We shout in the midst of the joy filled ones. And this community has grieved together.

I have so much I want to say about this event, but I need to process it a little more yet. So I’ll leave you with this. Who are you inviting and welcoming to the table?

A more in depth post to come soon.

Sunday Blessings 240 and 241

(1) Trying to cat sit for some members and bringing me supper.

(2) A nice book club gathering and meal

(3) Lots of hugs and sympathy given to me after Grandpa’s death.

(4) Awesome Sunday!

(5) Sweet Luna

(6) Leading Wednesday worship and great Confirmation

(7) Spiced Pear Cider. So yummy!

(8) B inviting me to eat with her at Banquet West

(9) The one youth who showed up for youth group

(10) Laughter and joy

(11) Pizza from a Confirmation mom

(12) New blinds

(13) Thursday coffee crew at church

(14) Yummy apple nachos

(15) Books

(16) Great LYO Board meeting

(17) New mug tree! Thanks KD!

(18) Church Bowling afternoon

(19) Talking with Grandma on the phone

(20) Talking with Dad on the phone